It all adds up
There is no quick fix in the classroom. It’s all of the little things that add up. Incremental gains I call them. Every detail matters. Every action is taken with purpose. I’ll explain a bit more. I guess it makes sense to start at the beginning. The set up of the class before the pupils even arrive.
The displays are connected to teaching. The “Chimp Paradox” review helps them to understand how their brain works and it signposts them to a copy of the book in the library. Where possible, one of my team will physically go to the display and try and talk with a child in crisis — more commonly known as having a meltdown! There is a ‘Team wall’ where pupils can find out a bit about the adults they work with, often they see similarities between their lives and ours or find out things they didn’t know about us. The competition wall has been carefully designed so the liklihood is that everyone can hold a record of some sort — from sit up champ to two minutes talking on your chosen subject and many possibilities inbetween. Every child is considered individually when planning the display. The pupils ‘working wall’ is my “I am proud of” display and it is an honour to have work up there. They all end up with work up there because in time they will all try their hardest. Then there is my personal favourite — Book Bingo. The grid is carefully arranged so that a row of four can be achieved by completing a range of tasks e.g. reading a poem, reading a newspaper, reading a book of their choice and reading a book of my choice. Differentiated by the choices offered and the lure of a prize on completion.
The desks are personalised with each childs name and also the class name. A ‘doodle sheet’ is taped to the middle of the desk so there is something to do the moment the child sits down. I call it keeping them in ‘un-trouble’. Getting them out of trouble before they even get into it. The eagle eyes of the experienced teacher do this dozens of times in a day. Then there are the covid-19 considerations. Individual stationery packs and a wordsearch book selected because it specifically says for ‘clever kids’. My little troop don’t believe they are clever but that is one of my goals for the year; to change the way they view themselves. All of this before a single pair of feet enter the room.